Three For The Weekend is a feature where we highlight noteworthy examples of long-form music writing and mixes for you to take with you this weekend.
Thug Life: Rap Music And The World “Thug”, by Collin Robinson
In the wake of the Freddie Gray tragedy, which spurred riots in Baltimore, President Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake labeled some of the rioters thugs. In a heated interview with Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly, Pastor Jamal Bryant, who gave the eulogy at Freddie Gray’s funeral, proclaimed the president and the Baltimore mayor black-on-black criminals for their remarks. Rawlings-Blake later offered a more nuanced clarification via Twitter. Obama did not. Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes urged those who use the word thug to drop the euphemistic charade and just use the n-word in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. Anchors used thug in local news broadcasts all over the country. Think pieces popped up all over the internet equating thug with the n-word.
Jamie xx: Taking Shelter in Loud Places, by Philip Sherburne
It is my third day with the 26-year-old musician, and he is dressed exactly the same as he has every day so far, in a black T-shirt, black pants, and black skate sneakers. He is polite but not terribly forthcoming; at most of our meetings, I haven't been able to tell if he's uncomfortable in front of a stranger, bored, or just worn out. (The cliché of English reserve turns out to be very real with Smith: "We don't express emotions to each other very often," he tells me, talking about his family.) But I also suspect Smith’s reticence has more to do with an intensely interior focus—as the world prattles on, he seems to be editing audio in his head. With the studio monitors blasting, though, he’s suddenly at ease.
Truly Outrageous: What the New Jem and the Holograms Film Gets Wrong About Modern Pop Stardom, by Hazel Cills
Jem was a fantasy series written in a decade when a pop star’s image was becoming essential to one’s highly televised success. Yet the franchise’s 2015 iteration seems grounded in an almost ‘90s mentality, one in which signing with major labels automatically meant selling out and being corrupted. The idea that fame and popularity for an artist is some life sentence of being uncool is a relic of decades past. And while Jem and the Holograms treats Jerrica’s YouTube music as this sort of untainted indie gold, it’s still being uploaded to a platform as a means to get the most people watching it as possible. Chances are, by the time a young artist has reached that several-hundred-thousandth view or play on the content they’ve been crafting in front of their laptop, they won’t be banking on some Suit to assign their image; they’ve assigned one to themselves.